- Social Media Basics for BSCs
- By Pat Murphy — posted 01/10/2012
Is your business using social media yet? If not, you need to consider what you’re missing out on if you don’t have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or Yelp—the three best portals for building service contractor businesses to engage their customers. Not convinced it is worth your time and effort? Consider this: over 80 percent of Americans use a social network and nearly 23 percent of online time is spent on them. These figures will just continue to grow, so isn’t it time you followed suit?
You can stay offline, like over half of the small businesses out there, and miss the opportunity to connect and engage with potential and existing customers. Or you can get started now. It may seem overwhelming initially, but with these few simple steps, you can start building your online presence and get your business the attention it deserves.
Building Your Brand With Facebook
There are now more than 800 million users on Facebook. If you’re not leveraging a built-in audience of contractors and consumers that log in and engage with the network on a daily basis, then your marketing campaign is missing a crucial component.
It’s relatively simple to start a basic business page. First, simply head to www.facebook.com/pages and click the “Create Page” button on the upper-right-hand side. Make sure to select “Local Business or Place” from the list of categories. Once you’ve completely filled in the required “getting started” information, upload a picture that represents your business—a bonus would be a photo that contains people. Facebook’s former head of marketing, Randi Zuckerberg, stated that the businesses that gained the most traction consistently featured photos of people on their pages and in their updates. Your best resource is your knowledgeable staff and your connection to the local community.
Once your page is created, add some administrators that you trust to chime in on your business page. Make sure that you invite your friends to “Like” the page so that when you start notifying customers, they’ll know that your page is legitimate. You can also use the “Import Contacts” feature and notify your contact database via e-mail to check out your new page. Don’t forget to have some content up there to show off to your growing audience. Ideally, you want to create one new update per week at the very least.
Finally, for the advanced user that doesn’t know a lot about coding or design, free apps like Payvment and inexpensive platforms like Storefront Social are handy, easy-to-use tools that help you show off and sell your products on your Facebook page.
Getting Started with Twitter
If you look at trending topics on any given day, it may seem as though Twitter is overrun with tweens and dominated by celebrities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Behind Facebook, Twitter is the largest online community available to drive brand awareness and engage with your customers in real time. Whether you’re sharing information on a special or responding to a question or complaint, consistent use of this platform, when used correctly, will drive traffic to your business both online and off.
Twitter now has more than 360 million registered users. Your goal is to not only identify your local audience (the tool Follower Wonk is great for this purpose) but to provide them with information that is interesting and useful. Basically, your main objective is to give users an excellent reason to share what you are doing with others in their network.
Try to secure a user name that includes an abbreviated version of your location. For example, if your company is Ace Janitorial Services located in Grand Rapids, MI, you might want to name yourself @acejanitorialgr, if it’s available. If you want to draw attention to the fact that you’re the only cleaning company in Colorado, you can add “CO” somewhere in your name. This isn’t a requirement but it does help.
Twitter gives you 140 characters for a bio. Make sure to highlight unique strengths your business offers and a specific anecdote about your location. Let your customers know what makes you different from your competitors. Add an avatar related to your business or location. You also want to include a link to your Web site or blog (preferably you have a blog as a means of providing interesting content and driving search engine optimisation) and that your site, in turn, informs users where they can find you on Twitter.
Make it a point to update your Twitter feed at least four times per week with unique messages. Write those and any responses to users in a casual tone as to suggest that there is a real person who cares about their unique request on the other end.
Are you Yelping? Your Customers Probably Are
It’s no big secret: in today’s digital age where information is viral, customer service is the new marketing. Yelp picked up on this obvious fact and since 2004, the company has built a community of tens of millions of users who have contributed more than 9 million reviews about the establishments they frequent.
Once you’ve registered and created your own personal Yelp page, you can then proceed to create one for your business if it doesn’t already exist. It’s important to have your personal account linked to your business page so users can see there’s a real person monitoring their feedback. Yelp also makes it easy to link to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles so customers can discover your presence there as well. This is also why it’s important to make sure your branding and messaging is consistent across all networks.
There are many advantages to having an account on Yelp. Besides being free, Yelp gives you the opportunity to respond to negative reviews about your business, discover what users have to say about your competitors, and create special offers targeted at Yelp users in your area.
Remember, customers are five times more likely to post a positive message about your brand as opposed to a negative one, so long as you respond in a timely manner and make a concerted effort to be as helpful as possible. Satisfied customers want to tell their network about a great experience interacting with a brand and that word-of-mouth messaging is the most powerful tool you can have in your kit.
Pat Murphy is CEO at the Institute for Social, Search, and Mobile Marketing (ISSMM). To learn more about ISSMM, visit www.socialsearchmobile.org.